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Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Preview: Ahly without inspirational paymaker against Ethiopia's Jimma Aba Jifar

Ahram Online , Saturday 22 Dec 2018
Walid Soliman
Ahly's winger Walid Soliman (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Ahly have a straightforward task to advance to the African Champions League group stage at the expense of Ethiopia's Jimma Aba Jifar on Sunday but they will have to do without their standout performer -- playmaker Walid Soliman.

A mild ankle injury has ruled Soliman out of the round of 32 second-leg in Addis Ababa, depriving Ahly of a lethal weapon as they aim to protect a 2-0 first-leg advantage.

Soliman was instrumental in helping the Red Devils reach last season's final and his absence on Sunday could restrict the team's ability to score an away goal and kill off the hopes of the Ethiopians.

He only came on with ten minutes remaining in the first leg and, without him, Ahly managed to score two goals but wasted a plethora of goal-scoring chances which would have made their task much easier.

But they are still firm favourites to advance as they eye their first continental crown since winning the last of their record eight titles in 2013. They lost the 2017 and 2018 finals to Morocco's Wydad and Tunisia's Esperance respectively.

New coach Martin Lasarte will keep a close eye on the team as he gets ready to take charge of Ahly. Reports said he would make his debut when the team meet big-spending Pyramids FC in the Egyptian Premier League on 4 January.

Mohamed Youssef, the interim coach, will return to his role as an assistant when the Uruguayan takes over.

Ahly will be boosted by the return of influential full-backs Ali Maaloul and Ahmed Fathi after lengthy spells on the sidelines due to injury.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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